NFL close to new ball inspection rules


By Barry Wilner - AP Pro Football Writer



The NFL is preparing to send out instructions to game officials and teams explaining new rules for inspecting footballs.

Two people familiar with the league’s plans tell The Associated Press on Monday that proper inflation of the footballs will be documented as part of the new policy. But those people, speaking on condition of anonymity because the league has not released information on the new policy, say no instructions have been sent out yet.

The first preseason game is Aug. 9, the Hall of Fame game between Minnesota and Pittsburgh in Canton, Ohio.

Among the details being considered for the new policy: having game officials appointed by the referee inspect the 48 footballs for each game more than two hours before kickoff. In the past, the referee inspected the footballs.

Also under consideration is checking pressure readings for every ball before the game and then again at halftime.

These changes stem from the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game, which led to a four-game suspension for New England quarterback Tom Brady, a $1 million fine for the Patriots, and two draft picks.

Brady has appealed the suspension and is awaiting Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ruling. The Patriots did not challenge their punishments.

Under the new guidelines, the official in charge of K balls used in the kicking game would handle all footballs after they pass inspection by the two chosen game officials. Ten minutes before the game, a member of the officiating crew and a security official will bring 24 balls, 12 for each team, to the field. The other 24 balls will remain in the officials’ dressing room.

Those footballs would be used in the second half of games in which the first 24 balls are inspected at halftime. Those halftime inspections will be done randomly.

Data for all inspected balls, including the amount of air in each, will be sent to the league office for evaluation.

By Barry Wilner

AP Pro Football Writer

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